For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.Galatians 3:27-29 RSV
Baptized into Christ … is here used in exactly the same manner that “Faith” was in the preceding verse, that is, as a synecdoche for the primary steps of accepting the gospel and becoming a Christian; and by the use of it, Paul testified to the essentiality of it.
It violates the rules of grammar to use in such a synecdoche any non-vital, unnecessary or unessential part to stand for the whole.
Yet there is a difference between “faith” and “baptism,” for here it is declared that people are baptized “into” Christ, a declaration nowhere existing in the New Testament with regard to “faith.”
As many of you as were baptized into Christ … is only another way of saying that “all of the Galatians” had been so baptized. This refers to the initiatory rite of water baptism.
The use of “As many of you …” means that any who might not have been baptized were not in Christ.
This verse is a limitation on the preceding verse, making the “ye all” of Galatians 3:26, to be modified and restricted to those who had received Christian baptism, thus clearly denying that any persons whomsoever had believed themselves into Christ without being baptized as Jesus commanded.
Of course, there are trainloads of books coming off the presses every month denying the obvious truth of this verse; and among the countless objections alleged against the truth, perhaps the most common is that “Well, not everyone who is baptized is saved.”
Now, any person being immersed without those vital prerequisites to baptism is not baptized at all, but merely wet.
It must be confessed that perhaps there are those who have thus been immersed without being saved; but nobody was ever saved without being immersed.
Every possible kind of racial, economic and sex distinction finds its great equalizer “in Christ.”
The bond of love and fellowship in the Lord is sufficiently strong to contain all outward differences among God’s children.
And if ye are Christ’s then are ye Abraham’s seed, heirs according to the promise.
This is not merely a continuation of the argument Paul has been making, but it is continued into Galatians 4.
This enabled the Gentiles to be accounted the true seed of Abraham, bypassing the Law of Moses altogether, thus inheriting through the promise to Abraham (Genesis 12:3; 18:18; 22:18).
Those who believe in Christ and are baptized in him are to be understood as here being affirmed to be “Abraham’s seed,” because, being clothed with Christ, they share his position.
They are heirs, not of Abraham, but of God; for the idea connects to that of the sonship to God (Galatians 3:26), of believers in Christ.
COMMENTS REGARDING Galatians 3:27
Observations under Galatians 3:27 are not intended as a presumption that any mortal knows the mind of God (1 Corinthians 2:16)
Or the ultimate judgment of the Almighty regarding any man’s destiny; for God is too wise to make a mistake and too good to do wrong.
The whole province of judging is denied to Christians (Matthew 7:1); on the other hand, the observations under Galatians 3:27, and throughout this series, are merely a conscientious effort to read what seems to be the clear and unequivocal meaning of the sacred New Testament itself.
It was Christ who said, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved” (Mark 16:16), and the antithesis of that bold promise justifies the deductions offered under Galatians 3:27.
The Lord has promised eternal life conditionally, and only God could change the conditions.
Upon behalf of many precious souls, apparently devoted, spiritual and praiseworthy in so many ways, who have decided to trust God for salvation regardless of their refusal to comply with the conditions, and in many cases, even admit that there are any conditions, let it be said that only God knows if he will or will not find a way for them to whom he has made no promise in the New Testament.
The clear and, in a sense, dogmatic interpretations which have been attempted in this series regard only what has been revealed in the New Testament and do not presume to judge the eternal destiny of any fellow-mortal whomsoever, the sole purpose being that of persuading people to accept the salvation of God in Christ upon the condition of their exhibiting “the obedience of faith” (to the best of their intention and ability), the same being the only condition upon which God has promised (in this dispensation) to give any man eternal life.
The presumption to affirm what the one true and Almighty God will do for us sinners-all, over and beyond what he has promised to do, simply does not lie within the boundaries of the purpose of these studies.
JUSTIFICATION NOT POSSIBLE BY LAW
The term “Law” was capitalized throughout this chapter to indicate that the Law of Moses was the opposite of Christianity which Paul was discussing.
In two or three places in this chapter, however, Paul used “law” in a sense that many scholars interpret to be more extensive than the Law of Moses only, the logic of such interpretations being clear enough.
No doubt Paul’s using the “law” in that wider application was for the purpose of including any human law, code of ethics, or system of rules as also being powerless to give justification.
However, the deduction of theologians to the effect that grace abolishes “all law” is sinful and presumptuous as any religious error ever advocated among people.
Paul flatly declared: “Do we then make law of none effect through faith? God forbid: nay, we establish law!” (Romans 3:30).
It should be observed that in this quotation the English Revised Version (1885) margin has been followed, giving “law” the wider sense of meaning, being in no way a reference to the Law of Moses.
So there is a law which faith establishes; and the nature of it is revealed in the New Testament, as follows:
The law of faith (Romans 3:27).
The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:2).
The perfect law (James 1:25).
The royal law (James 2:8).
The law of liberty (James 2:12).
So fulfill the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2).
See “The Law of Christ” under Galatians 6:18.
Furthermore, when the author of Hebrews spoke of the abolition of the Law of Moses, he did not say that all law had been abolished, but that “there was of necessity a change of the law”! (Hebrews 7:12).
It is that change which Paul discussed in the above chapter, the change from the Law of Moses to the Law of Christ.
One other extremely important consideration is due in this context.
If grace has abolished law, then there is no such thing as sin! “Sin is not imputed where there is no law” (Romans 5:13).
“Where there is no law, neither is there transgression” (Romans 4:14).
“For sin is the transgression of the law” (1 John 3:4).
It is clear then that the interpretation of Romans 6:14, “For ye are not under the law, but under grace,” if applied to the higher law of the Saviour, becomes the Magna Carta of antinomianism.
THE FAITH OF CHRIST
This chapter states no less than three times that it is the faith of Christ which saves and justifies, as utterly distinguished from the false notion that it is the sinner’s faith which does this.
This is in perfect consonance with an extensive body of New Testament teaching to the same effect, as witness the following: (Most of the following is from the KJV.)
Even the righteousness of God through faith of Jesus Christ unto all them that: believe; for there is no distinction (Romans 3:22).
That he might be just and the justifier of him that is of the faith of Jesus (Romans 3:26)
A man is justified not by the works of the law but through faith of Jesus Christ, even we who believed on Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ and not by the works of the law (Galatians 2:16).
It is no longer I that live, but Christ liveth in me: and that life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God who loved me, and gave himself for me (Galatians 2:20).
But the Scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe (Galatians 3:22).
In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him (Christ) (Ephesians 3:12).
And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith (Philippians 3:9).
Not only do the KJV and the best modern scholarship testify to the true rendition; but in those instances marked with an asterisk (above), the context itself reveals the meaning to be certainly not that of the sinner’s faith in Christ, since the sinner’s faith is specifically mentioned in the succeeding clauses.